The Jaguar E-Type (a.k.a. Jaguar XK-E) is a British sports car, which was manufactured by Jaguar Cars Ltd between 1961 and 1974. Its combination of good looks, high performance and competitive pricing established the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. More than 70,000 E-Types were sold.

In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in a The Daily Telegraph online list of the world’s “100 most beautiful cars” of all time.[2]

In 2004, Sports Car International magazine placed the E-Type at number one on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.


The E-Type was initially designed and shown to the public as a rear-wheel drive grand tourer in two-seater coupé form (FHC or Fixed Head Coupé) and as a two-seater convertible (OTS or Open Two Seater). A “2+2” four-seater version of the coupé, with a lengthened wheelbase, was released several years later.

On its release Enzo Ferrari called it “The most beautiful car ever made”.[3]

Later model updates of the E-Type were officially designated “Series 2” and “Series 3”, and over time the earlier cars have come to be referred to as “Series 1” and “Series 1½”.

Of the “Series 1” cars, Jaguar manufactured some limited-edition variants, inspired by motor racing :
The “‘Lightweight’ E-Type” which was apparently intended as a sort of follow-up to the D-Type. Jaguar planned to produce 18 units but ultimately only a dozen were reportedly built. Of those, two have been converted to Low-Drag form and two others are known to have been wrecked and deemed to be beyond repair, although one has now been rebuilt. These are exceedingly rare and sought after by collectors.
The “Low Drag Coupé” was a one-off technical exercise which was ultimately sold to a Jaguar racing driver. It is presently believed to be part of the private collection of the current Viscount Cowdray.

The New York City Museum of Modern Art recognised the significance of the E-Type’s design in 1996 by adding a blue roadster to its permanent design collection, one of only six automobiles to receive the distinction.

Production versions

The Series 1 was introduced, initially for export only, in March 1961. The domestic market launch came four months later in July 1961.[10] The cars at this time used the triple SU carburetted 3.8 litre six-cylinder Jaguar XK6 engine from the XK150S. Earlier built cars utilised external bonnet latches which required a tool to open and had a flat floor design. These cars are rare and more valuable. After that, the floors were dished to provide more leg room and the twin hood latches moved to inside the car. The 3.8-litre engine was increased to 4.2 litres in October 1964.[10]

The 4.2-litre engine produced the same power as the 3.8-litre (265 bhp;198 kW) and same top speed (150 mph;240 km/h0), but increased torque from 240 to 283 lb·ft (325 to 384 N·m). Acceleration remained pretty much the same and 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) times were around 7.0 seconds for both engines, but maximum power was now reached at 5,400rpm instead of 5,500rpm on the 3.8-litre. That all meant better throttle response for drivers that did not want to shift down gears.[11]

All E-Types featured independent coil spring rear suspension with torsion bar front ends, and four wheel disc brakes, in-board at the rear, all were power-assisted. Jaguar was one of the first vehicle manufacturers to equip cars with disc brakes as standard from the XK150 in 1958. The Series 1 can be recognised by glass-covered headlights (up to 1967), small “mouth” opening at the front, signal lights and tail-lights above bumpers and exhaust tips under the number plate in the rear.

3.8-litre cars have leather-upholstered bucket seats, an aluminium-trimmed centre instrument panel and console (changed to vinyl and leather in 1963), and a Moss four-speed gearbox that lacks synchromesh for first gear (“Moss box”). 4.2-litre cars have more comfortable seats, improved brakes and electrical systems, and an all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox. 4.2-litre cars also have a badge on the boot proclaiming “Jaguar 4.2 Litre E-Type” (3.8 cars have a simple “Jaguar” badge). Optional extras included chrome spoked wheels and a detachable hard top for the OTS. When leaving the factory the car originally fitted Dunlop 6.40 × 15 inch RS5 tyres on 15 × 5K wire wheels (with the rear fitting 15 × 5K½ wheels suupplied with racing tyres). However the 4.2 Fixed-head Coupé fitted Dunlop 6.40 × 16 RS5 tyres and the 4.2 2 + 2 Automatic fitting SP41 185 − 15 tyres.[12]

A 2+2 version of the coupé was added in 1966. The 2+2 offered the option of an automatic transmission. The body is 9 in (229 mm) longer and the roof angles are different. The roadster remained a strict two-seater.

Less widely known, right at the end of Series 1 production and prior to the transitional “Series 1½” referred to below, a very small number of Series 1 cars were produced with open headlights.[13] Production dates on these machines vary but in right hand drive form production has been verified as late as March 1968.[14] The low number of these cars produced make them amongst the rarest of all production E Types.

Following the Series 1 there was a transitional series of cars built in 1967–1968, unofficially called “Series 1½”, which are externally similar to Series 1 cars. Due to American pressure the new features were open headlights, different switches, and some de-tuning (using two Zenith-Stromberg carburetters instead of the original three SUs) for US models. Some Series 1½ cars also have twin cooling fans and adjustable seat backs. Series 2 features were gradually introduced into the Series 1, creating the unofficial Series 1½ cars, but always with the Series 1 body style. A United States federal safety law affecting 1968 model year cars sold in the U.S. was the reason for the lack of headlight covers and change in switch design in the “Series 1.5” of 1968. An often overlooked change, one that is often “modified back” to the older style, is the wheel knock-off “nut.” U.S. safety law for 1968 models also forbid the winged-spinner knockoff, and any 1968 model year sold in the U.S. should have a hexagonal knockoff nut, to be hammered on and off with the assistance of a special “socket” included with the car from the factory. This hexagonal nut carried on into the later Series 2 and 3.

An open 3.8-litre car, actually the first such production car to be completed, was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1961 and had a top speed of 149.1 mph (240.0 km/h) and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in 7.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 21.3 miles per imperial gallon (13.3 L/100 km; 17.7 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £2,097 including taxes.[15]

The cars submitted for road test by the popular motoring journals of the time (1961)such as The Motor, The Autocar and Autosport magazines were specially prepared by the Jaguar works to give better-than-standard performance figures. This work entailed engine balancing and subtle work such as gas-flowing the cylinder heads and may even have involved fitting larger diameter inlet valves.

Both of the well-known 1961 road test cars: the E-type Coupe Reg. No. 9600 HP and E-type Convertible Reg.No. 77 RW, were fitted with Dunlop Racing Tyres on test, which had a larger rolling diameter and lower drag co-efficient. This goes some way to explaining the 150 mph (240 km/h) maximum speeds that were obtained under ideal test conditions. The maximum safe rev limit for standard 6-cylinder 3.8-litre E-type engines is 5,500 rpm. The later 4.2-Litre units had a red marking on the rev counter from just 5,000 rpm. The maximum safe engine speed is therefore 127mph (3.31:1 axle) and 137mph (3.07:1 axle) at the 5,500 rpm limit. Both test cars must have reached or exceeded 6,000 rpm in top gear when on road test in 1961.